NBA reporter Shams Charania dropped a tweet this week stating that LeBron James is determined to finish out this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. That tweet put an end to the rumors that were out there about LeBron waiving his no-trade clause.
LeBron reiterated this himself, saying that he is here for this season right now:
With LeBron going all-in on this season, it is time for the Cavs to do the same. The Cavs need to at least put all their assets on the table to make a move for the present, even if that means dangling their Brooklyn pick.
If LeBron leaves, it is going to take a lot more than a number 8-9 pick (though the difference between the 1st pick and 8th pick right now is one game) to get the Cavs back to where they are now. LeBron James is a once-in-a-generational talent … even if he stays only until the end of this season, the Cavs need to make sure they do not waste that opportunity. Sure the Cavs might lose in the Finals, and yes LeBron might walk in the off-season, but there is also no guarantee that the Nets pick pans out, so why not take the risk?
Cleveland has been linked to a ton of trade rumors involving players like DeAndre Jordan, George Hill, and Tyreke Evans, but nothing has happened yet. If the Cavs want to get back to the Finals, they badly need a second star right now, as Isaiah Thomas is just not cutting it offensively. So far this season, Thomas is scoring 14.9 ppg, with an abysmal 35% FG percentage, and an even worse 23% from three-point range. And if you think his shooting has been bad, you should try watching him play defense.
So say the Cavs do go all-in. Who should the Cavs consider throwing in the Brooklyn pick for? Two guys that have been linked to the Cavs for that pick are DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker.
Jordan is a three-time All-NBA, two-time All-Defensive team talent. Jordan could make a huge difference for the Cavs on the defensive end of the floor with his ability to block shots at the rim and rebound in traffic. Offensively, Jordan would be able to work well in pick and roll situations, setting up dunks at the rim (what he does best). My only concern with Jordan would be in crunch time when teams would go Hack-A-Shaq on him. You know opponents would employ that in the playoffs.
Jordan can opt-out of his contract this offseason, or opt-in for one more year ($24.1 million).
Kemba Walker is another name that has come up a lot lately in the rumor mill. Walker himself is a very a polarizing player, as people either love him for his offense (22.6 ppg), or hate him because of his defense. Walker’s ability to create and get his own shot off at anytime is something the Cavs can desperately use right now. Walker is on one of the best contracts in the NBA, with one more year left at $12 million.
If the Cavs do not part with the Brooklyn pick, someone they should be looking at is Avery Bradley. The Cavs defense has been putrid this year (giving up a 110 ppg), and that is where Bradley can help. People forget that Bradley was on the All-Defensive 1st team in the 2015-16 season. Bradley has also had success defending against the Warriors in the past, something to keep in mind if the Cavs make it back to the Finals.
Another player to keep an eye on in the buyout market would be Nerlens Noel. Noel is only 23 years old, and a change of scenery for him coming off his thumb injury. He hasn’t played since early November. LeBron also knows Noel well, as Noel is with the Klutch Sports Group. Noel would be a low-risk, high-reward move.
If I were the Cavs, I would also think about calling the Bulls about Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday. Since joining the Bulls, Robin Lopez has quietly put up 11.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 1.1 bpg. Holiday and Lopez would bring some defense, toughness, and athleticism to a Cavs team that needs exactly those things. Some combination of the Cavaliers’ own first round pick and Iman Shumpert’s deal would probably get it done.
Ultimately if the best trade-deadline move Cleveland can make is for George Hill or DeAndre Jordan, and they pickup someone like Nerlens Noel, does that put them over the top? Who knows, but what we do know right now is the Cavs are a mess, the Brooklyn pick is outside the top 5 at the moment, and the Boston Celtics are rumored to be buyers at the trade deadline. We also know that LeBron can go into God-mode in the Finals, but again, the Cavs have to get there first for that to happen.
Every year around this time, word of some Cavs in-fighting gets out and LeBron fires off some cryptic social media messages. That turmoil has not affected the Cavs in the past, but this year truly feels different. The Cavaliers have an unathletic and old roster, and it looks like there’s some genuine dissension this year. With the trade deadline coming up (3:00PM EST), the onus is now on Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman to get LeBron some help. They need to do whatever it takes to turn around the fortunes of this year’s Cavs team, Gilbert owes that much to the King.